The Federal High Court in Abuja has directed the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to register a new association for lawyers in Nigeria. The directive follows a lawsuit filed by a group of lawyers including Bolaji Ayorinde, Mela Nunge, Garba Gajam, Emeka Ichoku, Chioma Ferguson, and Tejumola Adigun. The lawyers sued the CAC for failing to register their association as a legal practitioner body.
The plaintiffs raised concerns about the names being considered for registration, emphasizing that they should not resemble those of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to prevent potential confusion among the public. In a judgment delivered on December 15, 2023, Justice Gladys Olotu ordered the CAC to approve and register any of the proposed names submitted by the plaintiffs.
The proposed names include “Nigerian Law Society,” “Nigerian Bar Society,” “Nigerian Lawyers’ Society,” and “Association of Legal Practitioners of Nigeria.” Justice Olotu instructed the CAC to issue a registration certificate for the approved name.
The judgment highlighted the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, citing Section 40 of the Constitution, Article 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), and Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). According to Olotu, these rights cover the type of association the plaintiffs intend to register, emphasizing the importance of the right to peaceful assembly and association.
Notably, the Nigerian Bar Association, established in 1933, has historically been the country’s sole professional body for legal practitioners. Over the years, the NBA has faced challenges with various groups attempting to register as lawyers’ associations. Efforts to obtain a response from NBA spokesperson Akorede Lawal were unsuccessful as of the time of this report.